Crete is known worldwide for its unique variant of the Mediterranean diet. The healthy lifestyle Cretans practice, the organic products they consume, and geographic differentiators make Greece’s largest island one of the world’s healthiest places to live. At the heart of this distinctiveness lie the Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) and Protected Geographic Indication (P.G.I.) products central to creating the extraordinary Cretan traditional cuisine.
Crete’s P.D.O. & P.G.I. Products
P.D.O. products are organic foodstuffs that originate from a clearly defined geographic region where unique geo-climatic factors combine with human dynamics for the production of goods from a particular region. Similarly, P.G.I. products are defined by unique geography, only they must exhibit at least one quality that is characteristic of the region of production. Furthermore, to be classified as P.G.I., the product must go through at least one of its production stages within this defined geographic local. On Crete, producers go to great lengths to create goods of the highest nutritional value as part of a holistic life choice the island is famous for. The following is a basic rundown of the island’s P.D.O./P.G.I. products.
The P.D.O. Cretan cheeses are typically produced in more modern dairies, but there are still some traditional producers in the high mountains of the island. The robust flavors of these cheeses are a source of pride for every Cretan manufacturer and consumer. The quality of the sheep or goat milk used in producing Cretan cheeses is second to none. There are four kinds of Cretan cheese recognized as P.D.O. products: Graviera Kritis, Xinomizithra Kritis, Pichtogalo Chanion, and Xigalo Sitias. Wherever you dine while visiting Crete, you’ll find one or more of these varieties on the table in front of you. Cretans love cheese so much, they even eat it for dessert, in sweet pies, or topped with honey.
Speaking of honey, the P.D.O. Pine Thyme Honey of Crete is an elixir from heaven. A natural blend of pine honey and thyme honey, this aromatic product is both intense and uniquely delicious. Crete’s ecosystem is imbued with lots of pine trees and fragrant thyme bushes, which attract the bees that create this elixir. This honey is perhaps the most revered in all of Greece. Tasting is believing for this most unique Cretan food product.
Crete has been famous since early antiquity for the quality of its olive oil. Today, over 35 million olive trees are producing P.D.O., P.G.I., and organic olive oil many experts say it is the finest in the world. Known for extremely low acidity and for unique organoleptic characteristics, Crete’s olives are critical components of the Cretan diet known to help prevent chronic diseases. Olive oils are found in almost every recipe used on Cretan tables from homes in the Chania Prefecture to the farthest east taverna in the Lassithi region. In all, 11 types of olive oil bear the certification P.D.O. and/or P.G.I. on the island. The P.D.O. table olives – Throumba Abadias of Rethymno grown in the Amari region, are treasures of the Cretan diet as well.
P.G.I. Cretan Rusks
On this island’s longest standing food traditions, Cretan Rusks (or paximadi) are central to traditional nutritional habits of the locals. For visitors to Crete, rusks are like really crunchy slices of a bread loaf, softened with olive oil, used in salads, or eaten with tomato and cheese (Dakos). The history of the rusks goes back many centuries, brought forth from the need to preserve the bread longer. An agrarian tradition, Cretan rusks are made with no preservatives, and they are full of natural fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You’ll find this fantastic bread product at almost every table you sit at too.
The P.D.O. and P.G.I. wines of Crete are the result of over 4000 years of winemaking tradition. Once again, Crete is the home of products as distinctive as wine lovers can imagine. The native varieties grown in Crete’s various wine zones have emerged recently to become some of the most sought-after varieties in Europe. The distinctive organoleptic characteristics make Crete’s P.D.O. and P.G.I. wines truly exceptional. The best-known varieties you can enjoy include Dafni, Plito, Vilana, Vidiano, Thrapsathiri, Malvasia di Candia, Moschato Spinas, and the red varieties, Kotsifali, Liatiko, Mandilaria, and Romeiko.
“TUI Cares for Crete – Sustainable Food”
This joint project run by TUI Care Foundation and Futouris, aims to link the most important economic factors of the island – tourism and agriculture. Creta Maris proudly participates in the project taking special actions promoting the agriculture (especially wine and olive oil) and the indigenous varieties of Crete, as well as the cultural heritage of the island. So, during your stay at Creta Maris you will have the chance to taste wines from Cretan vineyards, and participate in olive oil tasting. Read about our Futouris actions in detail.